Re­build, or else

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

NE THING seems to be clear from the drama that has played out around the Cosatu ex­ec­u­tive’s decision to ex­pel Numsa: it presents an op­por­tu­nity to re­build. And the ques­tion of who should be re­build­ing, and how, is more than just a mat­ter of pol­i­tics.

In fact, too much pol­i­tics is the main rea­son why Cosatu looks like it is fi­nally un­rav­el­ling after real trou­ble was held at bay at its key congress of 2012.

At that event, Cosatu pres­i­dent S’dumo Dlamini in­voked the valiant spir­its of worker he­roes Vi­o­let Se­boni, Alina Rantso­lase and Chris Dlamini. But even as he spoke against a breach in the fed­er­a­tion, knives were out for out­spo­ken gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi. Com­ple­men­tary to Vavi was Numsa’s in­creas­ingly in­de­pen­dent view, while other bod­ies, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers, were draw­ing closer to the ANC’s po­lit­i­cal elite.

Yet we need to go fur­ther back, to the rul­ing party’s Polok­wane con­fer­ence in 2007, when Ja­cob Zuma was elected pres­i­dent, to see how Cosatu may have lost sight of de­vot­ing it­self to worker is­sues. Al­ready then, it was be­com­ing a po­lit­i­cal gamechanger beyond its role as an al­liance part­ner.

So, in the end, there must be re­build­ing, not only for worker unions, but also from inside the ANC. To para­phrase WB Yeats, can the cen­tre hold?


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